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Q&A: Clean Air & Solid Fuel Appliances

Many of you will have seen the media reports claiming there will be a ‘ban’ on stoves and open fires. Of course, we know this is incorrect, but many of your customers may have questions for you. Here are some of the most common questions you may be asked, and some suggested responses.

Is this government going to ban stoves?

No – there is nothing in the Clean Air Strategy which makes reference to this. Any appliances which are currently fitted will be able to continue to be used as normal.

Will the government ban future sales of stoves?

No, however the type of stove which will available for sale may change. It’s most likely they will have to be DEFRA-exempt appliances. This is actually good news because it means a great choice of fuels (both wood or smokeless) in any area. Whereas currently, they are restricted to just smokeless fuel if you do not have a DEFRA-exempt appliance.

Is the government going to be banning coal?

It’s likely the sale of bituminous house coal will be prevented in the future, but the sale of smokeless fuel is likely to continue. No final decision has been made about this.

What about the sale of nets of logs?

Again, the Government has still not made up its mind on this. It is thinking about banning the sale of unseasoned wood in smaller quantities, however sweeps have pointed out the logistical problems of controlling the sale of a product which, by its very definition, is naturally occurring.

If domestic stoves are the biggest source of pollution, why would I want one?

Stoves in themselves aren’t polluting – it’s the way some people use them. The truth is that very few people are shown how to use a stove, so they rarely burn efficiently until they either ask for help or have their flue swept. Unlike gas or oil, wood is a renewable energy source and, when burnt correctly, can be a very efficient way of heating your home.

Won’t all you sweeps be out of work soon with all this talk of stoves and pollution?

In fact, the opposite is true. The government has realised that sweeps are key to helping reduce the amount of emissions from domestic burning. It has backed our Burnright campaign and has formally stated that flues should be swept twice a year. Even gas and oil flues need to be swept, and the government recognises that a local, professional sweep is an invaluable resource.

Should I change my stove just in case they ban people from using old, inefficient ones?

Again, the Government isn’t planning to ‘ban’ appliances but a new efficient stove is a smart move purely from a financial point of view. You’ll get more heat from your fuel and also help reduce emissions into the environment.

One last question – Do you think air pollution is getting better or worse?

You may be surprised to learn air pollution from ALL sources has been dropping EVERY year for the last 30 years – this includes pollution from stoves and open fires. An exception to this drop is nitrogen dioxide – mostly from vehicles. So things are improving all the time, it just needs to be faster.

Chimney sweeps in particular must make it a priority to help all their customers understand how to use their fuels and appliances more efficiently, it’s our job and no one else can do it better or as easily as chimney sweeps. The BurnRight campaign materials and website will help you keep your customers on the right track. Your customers will appreciate the help and guidance and respect your professionalism. Together we can improve our business and our industry and make a BIG difference to our local air quality.  www.burnright.co.uk – the password for the Trade Information page on the site is simply burnright